While I was in Chicago this week, I met up with some nice folks at the incredible Field Museum (you will recall my previous adventures with their flesh eating beetles.) I learned that they are working with several other research and academic institutions to launch very soon something called the "Encyclopedia of Life."
The Encyclopedia of Life is basically a massive database of information about every living species on the planet. Each species has its own page of information, including rich textual descriptions, images, video, and links to other species that it interacts with and depends upon. This is very much a work-in-progress, a moderated wiki — so everyone can play a part by contributing photos, videos, and GPS data.
On Thursday, February 28, the first version of the EOL will be formally launched at the TED conference in Monterrey. The initial EOL will contain a massive 1.8 million stub pages with basic information about the various species, and 35,000 full species pages of information, mostly focused on fish.
I’m super excited about the EOL, which I think is going to be a powerful tool to help people understand the rich diversity of life
I like how you can dial up and down the level of detail about each species, from very basic information to the most up-to-date research data and scientific studies of that species. So for a 5th grade class, you might have students look at the more basic species pages to write a report of the animals they saw at their local zoo, or insects they found in a neighborhood park. Or a bird enthusiast might find out which ornithologists are studying the blue-billed wood thrush, and even help with the research.